Tribe now authorized to arrest, prosecute, and sentence non-Indians for certain crimes

Collaborator: Brittany Harlow
Published: 10/23/2022, 12:04 AM
Edited: 10/23/2022, 12:08 AM

Photo Courtesy: Muscogee Creek Nation 

(MUSCOGEE NATION) The Muscogee Creek Nation's Code of Laws has been amended to include authorizations to arrest, prosecute, and sentence non-Indians who commit certain crimes on the Reservation. 

The amendments were pulled from provisions of the federal Violence Against Women Act, which Congress reauthorized earlier this year. 

Under the new law, which took effect October 1, non-Indian offenders can be arrested and prosecuted for the following crimes committed against an Indian within the Reservation boundaries: assault of tribal justice personnel, child violence, dating violence, domestic violence, obstruction of justice, sexual violence, sex trafficking, stalking, and violation of a protection order.  

For the crimes of obstruction of justice or assault of tribal justice personnel, the victim may be Indian or non-Indian.

The Nation’s courts are also now authorized to sentence non-Indians for the above-mentioned crimes.

Principal Chief David Hill signed the act into law the day before it took effect. 

“One of the greatest responsibilities of the Nation is to do all we can to strengthen our laws to provide for the protection and safety in our communities and for all who live and work in our Reservation, both Indian and non-Indian alike,” Hill said.  “I am thankful to the National Council for unanimously approving our proposed legislation appropriately titled the “Muscogee (Creek) Nation Victim Protection and Jurisdiction Expansion Act” to build upon our existing law to expand the Nation’s sovereign authority in the Reservation and so victims of crime do not go unheard."

Hill said he was also thankful for the hard work put into this legislation by the combined efforts of Lighthorse, the Attorney General’s office, Family Violence Prevention Program, and the Department of Community and Human Services.

MCN Family Violence Prevention Program Director Shawn Partridge said the recognition of the Nation's criminal jurisdiction over non-Indians for additional crimes such as sexual violence on the Reservation is historic and long overdue.  

"The Nation’s Tribal justice professionals–from law enforcement, advocates, and prosecutors–are working tirelessly, day and night, and need every opportunity possible to ensure justice for victims/survivors and accountability for criminals who do harm on the Reservation," Partridge said. "We hope this expansion of authority continues to pave the way to full recognition of Nation criminal authority over all crimes committed by anyone on the Reservation.”


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